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How to save big on end-of-summer travel

Summer is almost over, which means you can save big on for that relaxing summer vacation you haven't taken yet. 

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    Sailboats are seen off the beach in Lahania, Maui, Hawaii July 29, 2015. Summer is almost over, which means you can save big on for that relaxing summer vacation you haven't taken yet.
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It’s hard to believe, but summer is already more than half over. August is approaching quickly, and it's a great month to plan an end-of-summer vacation. Since most people travel in early-to-mid-summer, you can save money by planning a trip later in the year, and by following some money-saving tips. 

1. Utilize your credit cards and points to save on flights and hotel stays.

  • Marriott Rewards Card -- You can get 80,000 Marriott Rewards points when you spend $3,000 in the first three months after signing up, which is enough to get you two free nights at a category 8 property of your choice.
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Card -- Sign up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and get 40,000 points when you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months. That's equivalent to $500 back in travel rewards for flights and more in the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Site!
  • FlexPerks Travel Card -- When you sign up for this card and spend $3,500 in the first four months, you'll receive 20,000 Flex Points (good for a $400 credit on airfare), and you'll also earn two points per dollar on cell phone bills, restaurants, airlines, gas, and groceries.
  • British Airways Visa -- When you sign up for this card and send $2,000 in the first three months of membership, you'll get 50,000 British Airways Avios miles, and earn three Avios miles per dollar on British Airways purchases, plus one mile per dollar on everything else. For more information, check out our blog post on how to get the most out of your British Airways Visa sign up bonus!
  • IHG Rewards Card -- You'll earn 60,000 IHG Rewards points after you spend $1,000 within three months of becoming a cardholder, and you'll earn five points per dollar spent on IHG purchase, two points per dollar at gas stations, restaurants and grocery stores, and one point per dollar on everything else.

2. Use discounts (You knew that was coming!)

Airfare:

  • Expedia -- For a limited time, you can save up to 100 percent off your flights when you book a flight and a hotel together on Expedia.
  • Southwest Airlines -- Save up to $200 on a Disney Vacation when you book with Southwest before 8/3!
  • Emirates -- Emirates is currently running a major sale on flights around the world, with departure cities all over the U.S.

Hotels:

  • Travelocity -- From now until 8/31, you can save up to 50 percent on hotels during Travelocity's summer sale!
  • Hotwire -- Save up to 60 percent on hotels when you shop this end-of-summer sale from Hotwire!
  • IHG -- Save up to 30 percent on IGH hotel rooms with this summer sale from IGH.

Packages:

  • Travelzoo -- Book by 7/31 to get an Ireland Vacation Package to Dublin, Kilkenny, and Limerick, including airfare, as low as $856. The package includes round-trip airfare from New York (JFK) to Dublin, car rental, and hotel stays for 6 nights in Dublin, Clare, Mayo, and Kilkenny. There are a variety of departure dates in October, November, and December, and the lowest prices are at the end of November.
  • OneTravel -- Use code SUN60 to get an extra $60 off select vacation packages with OneTravel.
  • United Vacations -- This sale ends today (7/30), but if you book by the end of today using code COAST1, you can save up to $200 on select vacation packages anywhere in the U.S. from United.

Car rental:

  • Travelzoo -- Book by tomorrow (7/31) to get 15 percent off rental cars from Sixt.
  • Hotwire -- This end-of-summer sale features rental cars for as low as $11.95/day!
  • Priceline -- Save up to 35 percent on Budget Car Rentals when you book with Priceline using the coupon code D479001.

3. Look at off-season destinations and travel times.

You can find great deals on New Zealand vacations when you book now!

  • Fort Lauderdale -- Florida in general is a great end of summer travel destination. Since it is such a hot spot for Spring Break crowds, the summer months tend to be a little slow and therefore a little cheaper.
  • Australia and New Zealand -- Because it's winter over there, their slow season lasts through the end of August.
  • Costa Rica -- The low time here lasts until November. Although temperatures are prettys steady, there is more precipitation during their low time.

If you plan on visiting a heavy business-traveler area, you may be able to get a better deal on weekend travel. Due to the current state of the economy, many businesses are cutting business travel and this means some hotels try to make up for that with weekend deals for families.

If you’re planning to send your kids to camp, consider just sending them for the month of August, many camps charge less because this month is less popular than June or July. Also note that you can also claim a tax credit of up to $3,000/child for the cost of summer camps.

4. Bundle hotel and airfare to get the lowest total price.

Sites like Expedia allow you to buy your flight and hotel together, which can save you big time. Another huge perk of using Expedia is that they allow you to compare different airlines and prices to make sure you’re getting the absolute best current deal you can.

Be sure to also check baggage rates before committing to a package. Some airlines, like Southwestdon’t charge baggage fees. Always take that into consideration when figuring your total cost.

The best advice we can give is to do you research before booking anything. See if bundling is best, try booking your flight as late as possible, plan your trip around local deals--do whatever it takes! Trust, me, the money you save will be worth the extra time spent reviewing your options.

This article first appeared on Brad's Deals.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best personal finance bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on the link in the blog description box above.

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